Updates from Tuesday, April 8
Gary Bedore of KUSports.com has a big update on Joel Embiid's plans for next year:
KU freshman Joel Embiid will hold a news conference at 2 p.m., Wednesday to announce his future plans.— Gary Bedore (@GaryBedore) April 9, 2014
Updates from Monday, March 31
Kansas Coach Bill Self spoke about Joel Embiid's decision-making process in terms of going pro (via Dave Skretta of the Associated Press and JayhawkSlant.com):
#KUcoach Bill Self says any report that Joel Embiid is NBA bound "jumped the gun." Says Embiid was upset when inaccurate reports surfaced— Dave Skretta (@APdaveskretta) March 31, 2014
Self just said Joel Embiid could return for another year or leave for the NBA. Embiid is still gathering information. #kubball— JayhawkSlant (@JayhawkSlant) March 31, 2014
Many expect Kansas 7-footer Joel Embiid to declare for the 2014 NBA draft after seeing his stock skyrocket during the regular season.
However, Embiid has yet to announce publicly whether he plans to enter the draft and stated as such on Twitter:
@humblekid11 haven't made a decision yet— Joel-Hans Embiid (@jojo_embiid) March 27, 2014
Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski previously reported Thursday morning that Embiid would soon declare:
Kansas star Joel Embiid – a possible No. 1 overall choice – has decided to enter the June NBA draft, sources told Yahoo Sports. ...
... A formal announcement on Embiid's decision is expected soon. In the past week, Embiid has progressed in settling on agent representation, but no final decision has been made, sources said.
Kansas head coach Bill Self spoke on the report to Rustin Dodd of The Kansas City Star:
"He hasn't said anything to us," Self said via text message.
Self previously said there was no timetable for Embiid's decision, while Embiid said he would consult with his family, coaches and mentor, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, a veteran forward with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Mbah a Moute also took to Twitter to deny the reports:
@WojYahooNBA joel has not yet made a decision!— Luc Mbah a Moute (@mbahamoute) March 27, 2014
After Kansas was eliminated from the NCAA tournament, Embiid addressed whether he would declare for the draft, courtesy of ESPN.com's Jeff Goodman, saying, "I'm not worried about that right now."
Overshadowed by fellow true freshmen Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Julius Randle (as well as sophomore Marcus Smart) at the beginning of the season, Embiid has firmly established himself as a contender for the No. 1 overall pick in June after averaging 11.2 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 2.6 blocks and 0.9 steals per contest on 62.6 percent shooting.
Although Wiggins, his teammate at Kansas, has a strong claim for the top pick, there is arguably no player in the draft with Embiid's potential.
One NBA scout, per Yahoo Sports' Marc J. Spears, called him the only "potential franchise player" in what is sure to be a stacked draft:
NBA scout told me Kansas' Joel Embiid is the only "potential franchise player" in this draft. I believe Duke's Jabari Parker will be one too— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) March 16, 2014
There's very little question Embiid has that kind of talent.
A volleyball and soccer player in his home country of Cameroon, Embiid, who turned 20 in March, didn't start playing basketball until he was 16 years old. Yet for much of the 2013-14 season, he looked like a seasoned veteran on his way to being named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year.
You aren't going to find many players capable of affecting the game in so many different ways.
At 7'0", 250 pounds, Embiid attacks the glass and protects the rim exceptionally well. According to kenpom.com (subscription required), he ranked 78th in America in offensive rebounding percentage, 12th in defensive rebounding percentage and 19th in block percentage.
But what stands out for a player with so much size and so little experience is his offensive polish.
When will Embiid be drafted?
He has the footwork to score with his back to the basket, is an extremely intelligent, adept passer out of the double-team and has even shown potential to knock down the mid-range jumper.
As with all 7-foot centers, there will be injury concerns.
Embiid missed the Big 12 tournament and his team's brief run in the Big Dance with back problems. But considering he has already shown flashes of tantalizing ability, along with his high ceiling, most franchises will be willing to take that risk.
Things can change in the next couple of months, but you're undeniably looking at a future top-three pick.